November 2012 John Weeks Integrator Round-up covering the topics of:  Policy, Business, Integrative Centers, Academics, Natural Products, Professions, and People

Fortune 500 firm Parker-Hannifin CEO pumps “alternative medicine” as a solution to the health crisis

On October 30, 2012, CFO Magazine published the first of a two part series entitled “A Solution to Our Country’s Big Healthcare Problem?” The subhead provides the answer from Parker Hannifin’s CEO Don Washkewicz: “One Fortune 500 CEO thinks covering alternative medicine techniques and therapies is the right course for both workers’ health and the bottom line.” Washkewicz’s wake-up to medical alternatives came via a personal positive experience from removal of mercury fillings. In a subsequent investigation, he found that 70% of his workers’ caries were being filled with mercury. Said Washkewicz: “We’re poisoning our workforce, paying for it up front, then paying again later for the chronic conditions that result from being poisoned.” He began promoting a CAM-rich benefits plan. The article lists 23 different types of a-typical treatments Parker Hannifin covers, including chelation therapy and bio-identical hormone therapy. Says observer Ken Pelletier, PhD, MD (hc): “Parker Hannifin is a big outlier, and in fact probably unique in its breadth of coverage.”

According to the article, the employer’s 8-year-old CAM program has grown from 27,000 services performed in fiscal 2009 to 46,000 in 2010, 78,000 in 2011, and 102,000 in 2012. The company has not tracked details on cost impacts but has found in the one corporate unit with the most tracking of such services that annual per-employee medical costs have sunk by more than half since 2007, from $6,500 then to $3,200 in fiscal 2012. The firm does not know what portion, if any, may be attributable to the alternative medicine benefit, but likes the trend. Says Washkewicz: “It’s early days, but we’re going to aggregate this and show the payoff in lower costs. And then we’re going to publicize the hell out of it.”

Comment: “Alternative medicine” – and for Washkewicz it clear that it is an alternative to what his employees would conventionally be receiving from their medical doctors that he is promoting – may have found its most important champion. A Fortune 500 employer may be just the right figure to lead “CAM” out of the wilderness. (Thanks to Integrator adviser Glenn Sabin, see below, for the link.) 

 

Glenn Sabin: Self-insured employers and integrative medicine are a “perfect marriage”

Integrative center consultant, blogger and sometimes Integrator contributor Glenn Sabin makes a case for the strange bedfellows of self-insured employers and integrative medicine centers and practitioners with his post Self-Insured Employers and Integrative Medicine: The Perfect Marriage.”  Sabin links to initiatives on cost contributions from these services as he argues first for the case for employer attention to integrative and then turns around and makes the case for attention from integrative center operators to work directly with employers. Sabin notes that despite the apparent value, that “while growing during this transitional period for all of US healthcare, the uptake of integrative health and wellness approaches by employers and healthcare providers has been spotty.” Sabin projects a change: “As a practical matter, practitioners who believe their therapeutic and clinical services belong in wellness programs are now positioned to take the initiative. Those who can articulate the health and cost benefits are likely to find a receptive audience among self-insured businesses who are taking the initiative to control their health care costs by improving the health and productivity of their employees.”

Comment: Tying the knot between integrative medicine’s heart-centered, soft-bellied practitioners and big business’s profit-centered, hardline operators would seem to present the worst of cross-cultural challenges to an enduring marriage. Long-time readers of the Integrator will know that this  marriage of strange bedfellows has been hoped for, nee planned for, editorially, in the way that a mother might wish that a child will “marry well.” (Just plug IHPM for Institute for Health and Productivity management, a former Integrator sponsor, into the Integrator search function. Here is one example.) The reason? The spouse-apparent from next door, conventional healthcare delivery, has proved to too often be a wolf in sheep’s clothing, organized as it has been around doing more of whatever that will best turn the spigots. This is not a “CAM” assertion. This is Paul Grundy, MD, MPH, from IBM, calling them “a milking machine” at a recent Institution of Medicine workshop reported here.   

 

“Trillionaire Wellness Industry” highlighted with alternative medicine projected to reach $115-billion in 2015

An article entitled “Trillionaire wellness industry: Healthy wealthy and wise” explores the size of the emerging wellness market. The centerpiece of the posting is a recent McKinsey and Company report that calls wellness “a demographic sweet spot of enormous potential.” Notably, the McKinsey version of the title inserts (maybe) before “wise”. A chunk of the global growth is expected from the Chinese economy where on average person spent about $60 on health and wellness, a 10th of what an average Canadian spent ($580). Chinese expenditures are expected to rise 13% from from 2006-2015. The author cites a report on the Global Alternative Medicine Industry that projects alternative medicine expenditures to reach $115-billion by 2015. One factor of importance to the trend appeared to have needed no reference at all: “Life, not science, is showing that prevention, education and relaxation, which are a significant part of a holistic discipline, are actually cost effective!” 

Comment: Ever since the publication of Cultural Creatives and the founding of the LOHAS movement, people have sought to quantify the dollars in health and wellness. LOHAS has estimated the market at $290-billion today. Dollars for “alternative medicine” look big but even at $115-billion in 2015 are less than 4% of the $2.8-trillion sick-care industry of 2012. We have a ways to go to create a truly thriving industry of health creation that will prove transformational.   

 

Samueli Institute and Herman partner for book on Evaluating the Economics of Complementary and Integrative Medicine

“Money may not make the world go round, but in our growing environment of fiscal restraint it is getting increasing focus by everyone.” With these words Samueli Institute’s president Wayne Jonas, MD kicks off a notice to the Institute’s list of a new publication developed via a partnership with Patricia Herman, MS, ND, PhD. Herman, who recently had the lead on a landmark article on cost-effectiveness in complementary and integrative medicine, has authored a book entitled Evaluating the Economics of Complementary and Integrative Medicine. The 100 page booklet is meant to instruct others in how to do these studies. Herman, a senior fellow at the Samueli Institute, is also senior behavior scientist in the health division of the RAND Corporation. The book is available at Amazon.com for $15.95. Adds Jonas: “We hope that this book and these initial published findings about the cost savings of integrative practices will stimulate both the quantity and quality of such research. The future of our children’s health and the sustainability of our health care system may depend on finding more of these types of treatments.” 

Comment: First, credit Jonas and the Samueli Institute for pushing this useful tool out into the world. If NIH NCCAM began to consider this little text their guiding light, my best guess is that no one would be questioning the value of the agency, chips fall where they may, after the next decade as the agency has been challenged after its first. Herman describes the strategies for getting at what the real world wants to know, as reported in the related stories in this Round-up

 

Jill’s List employer initiative promotes partnership with Huddleston’s Prepare for Surgery as big money saver

In another in a series of unusual partnerships, Jill’s List has announced a partnership with Peggy Huddleston and the
“doctors, nurses and other healthcare practitioners who are trained and certified in Prepare for Surgery, Heal FasterTM.” Under the initiative, practitioners are listed on Jill’s List for free, “making it easy for consumers, employees and referring practitioners to find a trained professional.” Jill Shah, the founder of the firm, points to savings that health system research has associated with the mind-body program. In one study, those using the program had 1.6 fewer hospital stays, for a $3200 average savings. The relationship with Huddleston is part of a new Jill’s List product for  employers called JL Corporate Wellness. Says Huddleston: “Jill’s List is a visionary partner who will help make many more patients aware of Prepare for Surgery, Heal FasterTM and connect them with a certified instructor.”

Health promotion leader Michael O’Donnell chosen to head Michigan center

The next director of the influential Health Management Resource Center at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology will be headed by health promotion leader Michael O’Donnell, PhD, MBA, MPH according to this release. O’Donnell, an activist and organizer, is the author of the leading text on workplace health promotion, the founder and editor of the American Journal of Health Promotion and the founder of Health Promotion Advocates. The Michigan Center was founded by Dee Eddington, PhD, a independent and outspoken employer health and wellness leader.

Comment: O’Donnell participated in the 2001 Integrative Medicine Industry Leadership Summit. While new to the field, he found himself quite taken with the health-focused energy and the preventive underpinnings of the emerging field. O’Donnell could prove an exceptional ally in supporting the “perfect marriage” Sabin (and this writer) have recommended.

The next director of the influential at the University of Michigan School of Kinesiology will be headed by health promotion leader according to . O’Donnell, an activist and organizer, is the author of the leading text on workplace health promotion, the founder and editor of the American Journal of Health Promotion and the founder of . The Michigan Center was founded by , a independent and outspoken employer health and wellness leader. : O’Donnell participated in the While new to the field, he found himself quite taken with the health-focused energy and the preventive underpinnings of the emerging field. O’Donnell could prove an exceptional ally in supporting the “perfect marriage” Sabin (and this writer) have recommended.

 

National Business Coalition on Health: chiropractic presents on the addition of DCs, LAcs and PTs to medical home

The Cisco Systems firm in the Silicon Valley has been experimenting with chiropractors and other licensed “CAM” services in its onsite medical home clinic. At the November 12-14, 2012 conference of the National Business Coalition on Health, chiropractor Bill Updyke, DC, the leader for physical and complementary medicine at Cisco’s LifeConnections Health Center will be presenting, as he shared in an email, on “what happens at an onsite clinic medical home when you add acupuncture, chiropractic and physical therapy to the medical practice.” He will be part of a session called “On‐Site Health Clinics: Break the Financial and Clinical Burdens.” The session is listed in the agenda as sponsored via the Foundation for Chiropractic Progress.

California Institute for Integral Studies promotes employee wellness certification

A note from Meg Jordan, PhD, RN, CWP to her list via the California Institute for Integral Studies (CIIS), urged people to take advantage of a training from the National Wellness Institute to become a Certified Worksite Wellness Specialist (CWWS) or a Certified Worksite Wellness Program Manager (CWWPM). The programs, held in San Francisco in early November, “focus(ed) on the importance of changing the organizational culture to ensure long-term results and use the most current information and research in the field.” Says Jordan, the department chair for Integative Health Studies for CIIS: “Whether you are new to worksite wellness or a seasoned professional, you will discover innovative ways to engage employees and enhance corporate wellness programs, all while earning a certification from a well respected non-profit organization.”

Comment: I include this segment to underscore the point made in the previous short articles in this section: the web of connectivity between integrative health, economics and corporate health is thickening. Notably, Jordan has been intimately involved with effort to mature the health coaching field which links to the subject of the report from Oregon in the policy segment of this Round-up.   

A note from to her list via the , urged people to take advantage of a training from the to become a  or a Certified Worksite Wellness Program Manager (CWWPM). The programs, held in San Francisco in early November, “focus(ed) on the importance of changing the organizational culture to ensure long-term results and use the most current information and research in the field.” Says Jordan, the department chair for Integative Health Studies for CIIS: “Whether you are new to worksite wellness or a seasoned professional, you will discover innovative ways to engage employees and enhance corporate wellness programs, all while earning a certification from a well respected non-profit organization.”: I include this segment to underscore the point made in the previous short articles in this section: the web of connectivity between integrative health, economics and corporate health is thickening. Notably, Jordan has been intimately involved with effort to mature the health coaching field which links to the subject of the report from Oregon in the policy segment of this Round-up.   

“To Cure Health Care, We Must Think Bigger, Much Bigger” – another CFO promotion of CAM corporate exploration

Just prior to publication of this Round-up, Glenn Sabin sent an additional link to post inside a CFO Magazine which targets the Chief Financial Officers of the nation’s largest organizations. The article, “To Cure Health Care, We Must Think Bigger, Much Bigger”, included notice that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently “indicted the health-care system for its “failure to develop and deliver effective preventive strategies … which continues to take a growing toll on the economy and society.” The writer, CFO’s deputy editor, David McCann, argues that “maybe giving CAM a fair shot isn’t so revolutionary after all.” McCann quotes Wayne Miller, whose CFO Magazine webinar with Integrative Healthcare Policy Consortium chair Len Wisneski, MD was noted in the October 2012 roundup: “Because of [wasting money on regular medicine], we are crowding out the capital needed for growth, we are sustaining monopolistic behavior [by mainstream medicine], and we are causing enormous human suffering. What part of that is worth defending?” 

Comment: As I have been arguing for many years, we need to be exploring “integration from the demand side.” A mentor Sean Sullivan, the first director of the National Business Coalition on Health back in the 1980s, taught me to say that phrase. The demand side is consumers and purchasers. The supply side is delivery organizations, and i would argue, researchers and insurers. Big business and the cost-saving integrative approaches may be strange bedfellows, but they belong together, experimenting, trying things, without reductive medicine as a bundling board getting in the way of their messing around toward whole person, health-focused solutions.